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Art & Art History

Arresting Images

Monday, August 21, 1995–Saturday, September 30, 1995
Gallery 400
400 South Peoria Street, Chicago, IL 60607

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John Arndt, John Baldessari, Christa Black, Mel Chin, Jodi Darby, Davis and Davis, Jimmie Durham, Robert Flack, Nancy Floyd, Gregory Green, David Humphrey, Marta Huszar, Gary Lang, Bradley McCallum, Michael Minelli, Victor Ochoa, VA de Pintor, Ian Pollock and Janet Silk, Anne Rowland, Maciej Toporowicz, and Kean Wilcox

The works presented in Arresting Images, curated by Karen Indeck, are a response to the growing concern of artists over the use and abuse of weapons in our society. Many of the works in the exhibition confront the violence and aggression of today ’s society, while others react to the powerlessness and senselessness of the system of which they are a part, and still others relay information in a narrative format. Weapons emerge as symbols and symptoms of social, cultural, economic, and psychological dysfunctions and become metaphors for the profound disparities of the human condition. This exhibition addresses the dialogue around weapons, their uses and meanings as well as their relationship to our culture.

Weapons have existed as cultural artifacts since the beginning of time. Traditionally, museums make available presentations of these objects as cultural artifacts and testaments to a society. They are objects stripped of their context and tastefully exhibited as individual specimens in isolation. The weapons in this exhibition are recontextualized out of a sociocultural context and taken out of a neutral position. In his review of the exhibition, Fred Camper wrote, “Many of these thirty-five pieces by twenty-three artists are complex and thought provoking. Most of the best pieces acknowledge a fascination—sometimes the artist ’s own—with guns, or violence, even while condemning it. This is appealing to those of us who subscribe to the truth of Pogo ’s immortal aphorism: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Arresting Images investigates issues about weapon control, power versus weakness, position/status, the psychological state (hysteria and paranoia opposed to authority and command), the mass media connection, identity, stereotyping, space (public and private: domestic and community), resistance versus acceptance, and the role these weapons play in our culture. In some cases the artists ’ work does not support a “positive image” but an in-your-face, non-apologetic acceptance of the state of weapons in our society, and in other cases the works act as a signifier or interpreter of this era. Weapons are examined on both the micro (psychological/private) and on the larger macro (political, social, cultural) levels of analyses.


Camper, Fred. “Taking Aim at Weapons.” Chicago Reader, Sept, 15, 1995, sec. 1, p. 34.

Stamets, Bill. “Art: A Warm Gun, A Wet Paintbrush.” Chicago Sun Times Weekend Plus, Sept. 29, 1995, p. NC3.

Karen Indeck has been the curator and director of Gallery 400 and the Visiting Artists-in-Residence Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago since 1986. Her curated shows include NATURE/nature (1990), Laughing Matters (1993), and Influx (1993). Indeck received a BFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago.